After a confrontation between a driver and flagger at a construction site in Essex, police will replace flaggers on the project.
According to Essex Police Chief Peter Silva, a flagger reportedly struck a passing vehicle in the windshield area with a stop sign. The flaggers sign was broken in the incident.
Silva said the flagger reportedly struck the vehicle “near the windshield,” breaking the sign. The driver did not stop.
Essex Police state that they have been asked to provide a detail officer for the site, however, a Department of Transportation spokesman told the Gloucester Daily Times that, while the flagger involved has been “removed for disciplinary reasons,” a flag crew will return to direct traffic at the site Monday.
The Essex site is one of several around the state at which the state Department of Transportation has been using civilian flaggers in place of uniformed police officers in what they say is an effort to drive down the cost of road construction and utility work. A DOT spokesman said the move has saved the state $10 million since last year. Recent bids that heave come to light, however, show that the cost of flaggers is often more than that of a police officer.
Police unions have strongly opposed the policy, which was introduced by Governor Patrick citing public safety advantages of having state- and privately funded police officers at construction sites, where they have been able to intervene to stop crimes in progress.
-Attorney John MacLaughlan